November 3rd 2001

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Articles from this issue:

Cover Story: Afghanistan - Why the war on terrorism will be long and risky

Editorial: Why the ALP could win by default

TESTIMONIAL: A policy agenda for Australia's future prosperity

Election 2001: When will the parties support a new bank?

Defence: US Navy commissions Australian high speed catamaran

Canberra Observed: Nationals looking down the barrel

Straws in the Wind: Varieties of evil / Russian fears / My enemy's enemy is my friend

Law: Family Court redefines man

Government spokesmen confirm WTO threats

Media: Moral equivalence / Will they be invited back?

Letter: Settlement deaths

Letter: Beazley defended

Letter: Defence solution

Comment: The evil face of terrorism

Drugs: The case against medical cannabis

Obituary: Vale Phyllis Boyd

China: Can the Chinese Communist Party survive the market?

Books: 'John Maynard Keynes: Fighting for Britain 1937-46' by Robert Skidelsky

Books promotion page

Straws in the Wind: Varieties of evil / Russian fears / My enemy's enemy is my friend

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, November 3, 2001

Varieties of evil

Had I been alive at the time, I would almost certainly have opposed World War I, and our participation therein. World War II, fought against Nazism and the Japanese, could not be escaped, barring the acceptance of slavery, or worse. Letting the Nazis run around the world like mad dogs, biting everyone, or becoming a member of Japan's Co-Prosperity Sphere, was to accept a far greater injustice to oneself, and helpless others, than fighting, and eliminating, these Feral States.

Vietnam was, for me, a No-No, morally speaking - though I understand the reasons, prima facie good reasons, why many of those who supported it, in good faith, did so. Not all who supported it did so in good faith - but then, neither did all those who opposed it. The question is, in the Big Picture, how important are the motives of those who support something, or oppose it?

When St Augustine, watching approaching barbarians destroying the Roman Empire, and quite often churches, monasteries, etc., asked, "Could it ever be right to wage war? Could there be an even greater evil?", he decided that it could be right, because there were even greater evils than war. It was right to fight in a Just War. But the war had to be just.

His criteria were: that the cause be just; that the consequences of going to war must be more morally acceptable than not going; that the means of waging war must not exceed defensible limits of violence and cruelty; and that all avenues of peaceful resolution and negotiations had been closed to you.

He added another criterion, which was soon dropped out - perhaps because unworkable. A war whose leaders were motivated by vanity, or cruelty, or greed, or desire for revenge, could not be Just - no matter whether the other criteria were satisfied.

But how many leaders, advocates (and peoples?), are not contaminated by one or more of these vices, or faults? And the enemy will be, too, perhaps in spades. So why must he be allowed to win, by default?

Most of this type of analysis centres around the "War Party", and War. For this is about the spilling of blood and the taking of lives - but similar questions arise for opponents of a war, including peace movements. I have belonged to a number, each different, over the years, so shall tackle this question later on.

Russian fears

A new, and, perhaps, surprising coalition of powers seems to be forming. Triggered by the new terrorist threat, it was foreshadowed by the election of George W. Bush. He wished to capitalise on the end of the Cold War, and a full rapprochement with Russia was high on the agenda. A drastically weakened Russia has had good reason to fear its Muslim neighbours to the south - so it welcomes America's greatly increased involvement in the region.

The US no longer rejects Russian fears of Taliban-type movements, while the great oil deposits running west and south-west from the Caspian Sea provide Russia with a strong bargaining asset, and a shared interest, with the US, in seeing that these great oil reserves don't fall into the lap of hostile countries. America's need to have a counterweight to China in the Far East, all make Russia a very desirable ally. However, a great deal of money would be required to restore Russia to anything like her earlier potency - but this may not be beyond America's capacity.

A great deal of this speculation waits upon America's victory in Afghanistan, and her settling of accounts with Kabul's rogue friends. But an American defeat would produce unimaginable consequences for the West, though many seem unaware of this. The effects far worse than her loss in Vietnam.

Some things not yet discussed are the possible effects on the US and Western economies of America going on to a full military footing; to carry on a struggle which Bush has said might last for years; and building the Star Wars system. Add to that a possible aid program, not only for shattered Muslim countries, but to raise up important allies, e.g. Russia, and you have the formula for a new economic boom for the US. Something like this might in fact be necessary to revive faltering Western economies.

Tony Blair has been a most unlikely beneficiary of the new conflict, and is seizing his chance with both hands. Until now, he was trapped, and appeared content to be trapped, in the mini-politics of Europe, where Britain was still regarded as an outsider, with much of the UN happily luxuriating in its anti-colonialist, anti-British memories, making the British feel they had to prove themselves - say sorry, and hand out more aid.

Blair has jumped out of these parochial giggle-suits, and is now joint leader, with Bush, of a global military-political enterprise. Not like Thatcher and Bush Senior, but - Churchill and Roosevelt; Tony hopes.

But his domestic political situation is piquant. The Tories have to support him, though fearing that he is cementing his rule. Labour has to run to catch up with its leader; his only critics are to be found in the Left of his Party, who face a massive loss of influence over the Mark II Tony. But they have to be careful, so they can only hope that Bush and Blair come a cropper. They have numerous friends in our public media, as well as their own country's, more than happy to do the Left's dirty work.

There are many serious obstacles to the Alliance seeking to carry this campaign into the heart of anti-Western, pro-terrorist Islam. The threat of an oil blockade - in which Iran, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Indonesia, and the Gulf States might join - if the Anglo-Saxons were becoming too successful and expansionist, cannot be ignored.

The impact on the world economy can be imagined - although the backwash would almost certainly sweep away many of the oil nations' elites, dependent as they are upon oil revenues to bribe their masses, and their military. So, a blockade would be most unwise; but irrationality is in the air.

Which is why Pakistan, with her nuclear armaments, is a major worry for us all. Bush has to handle her with kid-gloves, for a successful pro-Taliban revolt there could put her nuclear weapons in pathological hands. So the daily wishful thinking of our public media reporting of Pakistan, one of a piece with their BBC counterparts, should be seen for what it is.

My enemy's enemy is my friend

My first involvement with an anti-war/peace movement was in the late 1950s, with the newly formed British CND, and the New Left, which emerged in parallel. We saw the twin threats to our lives to be the dangerous fail-safe strategies of Russia and the US - whereby, not yet in possession of a second nuclear strike capacity, he who struck first would win, while creating great damage.

The second threat was that of nuclear proliferation: other countries (and Britain and France had become, or were becoming, nuclear actors, also acquiring the bomb). China, Germany, Israel, etc., were also mentioned.

As we know, many countries now have nuclear weapons. So we thought that Britain should shed her nuclear weapons, hoping to set an example, and either leave NATO or become a silent, inactive partner, like De Gaulle's France.

In private conversation, Bertrand Russell, for one, did not think either Russia or America should unilaterally disarm, for the hardliners in either country would seize the chance to gain control of the world game. But this peace movement was basically politically mature, not rabidly anti-American, just against its warlike élites, as it was against Russia's.

Many Left members were anti-capitalist, but that played no part in our main work. The Trots, the Anarchists, the British Communists, the pre-Maoist Infantile Communists, all tried to hijack CND, but failed, during that time.

The anti-Vietnam War movement in Australia, like its parent in the US, was a different animal. Had there not been conscription, most of the young activists would not have bothered to join what became an anti-American - pro-friends-of-the-Communists - movement.

As to the emerging middle-class counter-culture, which overlapped, that probably would have been taken up by the young, as it was elsewhere. But the world of Timothy Leary, Frantz Fanon, et al, received a big legitimising boost from Vietnam, as did Jane Fonda.

I could never see any valid connection between the War and counter-culture - but noticed a complete lack of sympathy for our soldiers, and mainly feigned concern for their opponents. I had given myself two years to allow co-existence with our "peace" characters - in the end I ran over four years, and that was too long. The chants of their country right or wrong, their ideologies and political systems, rather than ours - no matter how barbarous these ego-ideals were in practice - started in 1917, but are now a permanent pathological factor in our national life.

Taught in schools, universities, disseminated through the media and the more irreligious churches, they are a formula for disintegration, then extinction. The final deconstruction.

To conclude: it is of macabre interest that the Left's permanent preference for other states and systems, as weapons against our system - which is the one they reject, even hate - having run through successive infatuations with Russia, China, Pol Pot, the various Third World "Left" dictatorships, should come to rest with the Taliban, and its international terrorist allies! With the hope that "they" teach America, the West, and John Howard (!), a lesson. Then we could have our Neville Chamberlain government here. Which is all that a lot of the Australian Left want.

Beazley, Howard and 356 drowned boat people

A totally disgusting relationship has sprung up between Indonesia, the people-smugglers and their pathetic clients, and the Federal Election campaign.

We all know this evil trade is being run from Indonesia, with the full knowledge of Jakarta - which won't even receive its country's own ships back, in defiance of the international law that the Left nowadays talks about.

This is a payback for Timor. Howard can't say so - so Beazley, also knowing this, can score debating points, drawn from the miseries caused by Indonesia and Pakistan, from where many of these people are collected.

Beazley says Howard should have a relationship with Jakarta (like, he would?).

The price would be saying sorry for Timor, and welshing on the anti-terrorist campaign which we have joined with the US. Such a move would lose us all credit, now and in the future.

The Left in the Labor Party would be delighted were it to occur - as would the friends of the snakeheads, and the "let the UN deal with the Taliban" party here.

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